Damage, injuries reported in violent storms’ wake

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

BRANDON – A line of violent thunderstorms packing apparenttornadoes, high winds and heavy rain pushed across the state thismorning, cutting a swath of damage and injuries across central andsouthwest Mississippi.

”We know there are people hurt in the Monterey Road area”southwest of Brandon in Rankin County, said Lea Stokes of theMississippi Emergency Management Agency. ”The ambulance servicereported transporting six injuries from that area to a hospital inRankin County.”

In Pike County, Civil Defense volunteer Kevin McKenzie saidthere were reports of minor injuries, including a person who wastrapped in a mobile home.

McKenzie said numerous homes were damaged and there wasextensive damage to timber and utility lines.

”The southeast part of the county has been hit hard,” McKenziesaid Wednesday.

Widespread minor damage was reported in Lawrence County, andLincoln County civil defense officials were scrambling to assessthe situation there at press time.

Lincoln and Lawrence counties were under tornado watches earlierin the day, and a possible touchdown was reported at Manning’sCrossing in Walthall County, just across the Lawrence County line.Officials also cited possible funnel clouds in Lincoln Countynorthwest of King’s Daughters Medical Center at 9:45 a.m. and abovethe Brookhaven Municipal Airport at 10 a.m.

Information was sketchy as officials responded to damage reportsand tried to identify potential tornadoes.

In Lincoln County, crews worked to clear roads and spotpotential tornadoes.

“I don’t have time to talk right now,” said Clifford Galey, thecounty’s civil defense director when contacted about 9:30 a.m.

Galey said his office had received no severe damage reports buthad received plenty of hail and high wind reports.

In Lawrence County, Civil Defense Director Robert Patterson saidvolunteers were scattered throughout the county clearing roads andassessing damage.

“We’ve got reports of baseball-sized hail in Arm and severaltrees down in the Silver Creek and Topeka area,” he said.

At 9:45 a.m., Patterson said there were no verified reports ofhome damage, but officials had been dispatched to check anunverified report of a tree on a house near Silver Creek on Highway43 North.

Crews sent to investigate the report of a tornado touchdown atManning’s Crossing were delayed by fallen trees across Highway 27South, Patterson said. He said they were clearing the road andwould try to continue on afterwards.

Galey said the storm was the result of a slow-moving front andwas expected to last “through the day and maybe even some tonightand tomorrow.”

Across both central and southern counties, there were reports ofdowned trees and some power outages.

Numerous mobile homes were destroyed and damage was reported toroofs and vehicles in areas south and southeast of Brandon,especially along Monterey Road between Florence and Brandon.

Jill Ball, a 20-year-resident along Monterey Road whose parentsalso live in the area, said she was stopped at a roadblock as shetried to return home from work.

She said had not heard from her husband or her parents.

”I’ve got my whole family back there,” Ball said as she lookedpast the roadblock.

Stokes said roads were still being cleared along Monterey Roadsouthwest of Brandon at midmorning.

”We have emergency rescue teams on the scene,” she said.

Monterey Road was blocked off to all but emergency vehiclesWednesday morning.

”We also have reports of touchdowns in Scott County near Osakaand in Pike County,” Stokes said. ”There are reports of damage,trees down and power lines down.”

Officials in Scott County said they had no reports of injuriesbut that damage was reported north of Morton on Mississippi481.

”In Walthall County in the Rolland area, we have reports ofdamaged roofs and downed trees,” Stokes said. ”We don’t have alot more right now, everything is still coming in.”

Besides Monterey Road, damage in Rankin County included alongBrandon-Star Road south of Brandon. Officials also reported damagein the Florence area, southwest of Brandon.

The National Weather Service has not confirmed a tornadoalthough warnings were issued and the public reported seeing afunnel cloud in the area.

The new Brandon High School, under construction on newMississippi 18, also was damaged.

Truman Johns, construction manager-superintendent for thecompany building the school, said there appeared to be extensiveroof damage, along with shattered skylights and windows.